David A. Andelman
The long shadow Donald Trump is casting across Europe is falling first on the Netherlands, where voters go to the polls Wednesday for the first test of whether his political coattails have a real lift, or serve as a dangerous drag on the prospects of Europe’s resurgent populist right. It will be evidence as to the appeal of anti-Muslim candidates seeking to ban refugees and reject the concept of a united Europe.
The momentum of far-right populist Geert Wilders has been slipping. Even if he were to win, there are obstacles to his taking over outright leadership of this NATO nation.
Wilders’ platform is a fun-house mirror of Trump and adviser Stephen Bannon’s darkest views — pushing the bar on all Muslim immigration, shuttering all mosques (Wilders calls them “Nazi temples”) and asylum centers, banning the Quran and taking the Netherlands out of the European Union in a move dubbed Nexit, following Britain’s ill-considered Brexit vote last year.
For some time, the Dutch politician found himself with apparently unstoppable momentum. After all, it was Wilders who last April began tweeting, “MAKE THE NETHERLANDS GREAT AGAIN!”
Wilders has expended some effort trying to emulate Trump’s rise in the United States. He even attended the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland, and in response to Trump’s shocking November victory, Wilders tweeted, “The people are taking their country back. So will we.”